Sep 3, 2019

Vegetarian and vegan diets deprive us of an essential nutrient for the health of our brain.

It is becoming increasingly common practice for humans to refrain from consuming food of animal origin. But a nutrition expert warned of the mental health consequences of diet.


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Choline is an essential nutrient that is part of the vitamin B complex. The main sources of this nutrient in the diet are beef, eggs, dairy products, fish and chicken. It can also be found, at much lower levels, in nuts, beans and raw vegetables such as broccoli. The hill is important for the performance of various brain functions such as memory, mood, muscle control and can even prevent the decline in mental health that happens over time.

Those who do not eat meat may be depriving themselves of this essential nutrient, warns nutrition specialist Emma Derbyshire in an article written for the British Medical Journal Nutrition, Prevention & Health. Derbyshire argues that many people no longer consume the daily recommendations and the increasing number of herbal diets can make the problem worse.

"Physiologically, choline is fundamental for various functions throughout the life cycle, with choline deficiency linked to liver disease and neurological and cognitive disorders in children," he said, quoted by the Telegraph. "Warning about this issue] is more important today than ever.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published food guidelines that suggest a daily intake of 400 mg of choline for adults and over 15 years and 480 mg for pregnant women. However, the average consumption of Europeans is currently below this level.

The article also argues that choline accelerates the creation and release of a protein called acetylcholine, which carries signals between brain cells. The brains of people with Alzheimer's disease have been found to have low levels of acetylcholine and the drugs used to treat the early stages of the disease serve to increase levels of this protein.

A study conducted at Harvard University also found that people whose diets include large amounts of choline perform better in cognitive and memory tests.

To counter-argument, Telegraph news quotes Tom Sanders, professor of nutrition at King's College in London, who says it is possible to get enough choline from other foods: "Choline can be produced in the body and is also abundant in many vegetable foods, including soy (...) There is not enough justification to suggest that a plant-based diet jeopardizes brain development. My own research on vegans in Europe and the USA considers the growth and development of vegans and vegetarians to be normal.

In May of this year, the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine already issued an opinion in which it warned of "very serious" cases of imposing veganism on children, which forced them to be hospitalized.